An Identification of the Effects of Computer Literacy on Modern Secretaries

An Identification of the Effects of Computer Literacy on Modern Secretaries in NEPA Enugu

This chapter contains a review of related information from different literature on the topic. This will be done under the following headings.

  • The meaning and development of computers
  • Importance of computers and computer literacy
  • The effects of computer literacy on modern secretaries
  • The problems secretaries encounter in the use of computers
  • Summary of the literature reviewed.

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Computer according to Longman Dictionary of contemporary English is an electronic machine that can store information and do things with it according to a set of instructions called programs

Banker and Yeates (1985) defined a computer as a device for performing automated information (or data processing). They contented that it may be thought of as a machine that takes raw data or information as its input and produces as output, new or transferred data or information. In support of this Bochin (1972) defined a computer as device capable of accepting information, applying the result of the processes. It usually consist of input and output devices, storage, arithmetic/logic unit and a control unit. It didn’t end there Eleoba (1991) in his own words contended that a computer is an electronic device capable of performing complex calculations at an electronic speed. It adds, subtracts, divide, multiply can be used in word processing. To Igobah and Igobah (1993) computer is an electronic fast rule following machine. It accepts inputs, process it and gives output. The most important things to note in these definition are  – the capability of the computer to accept data, process, store and reproduce as output or transformed data.


The first generation (1950 – 1955) which was only electronic computer called electronic numerical integrator and calculation (ENIC) and their early models which use vacuum tubes. Input consists primarily of punch cards and program stored within the computer were pretty much limited to magnetic drums and cores. Davis William (1978) Nwana T. A (1989)

The second generation (1955 – 1964) developed computer marked by the use of transistors and diodes which are much smaller and more compact and require less air conditioning of their vacuum tubes. Technological advancement of the second generation also magnetic tape units with massive amounts of data stored on reels of magnetic tape for processing on the computer at high speed. This generation was marked by the processing of data at random rather than in serial or sequential order. Most utilized the early computer in converting from their existing to mechanical accounting to and clerical systems in order to obtain saving in order to obtaining in the office of person required to do the work, to secure procedure and to provide for computer capacity that would absorb anticipated increased work loads. Warson, Ronald et al. (1978)

The third generation (1964 – 1971), during this period, transistors began to give way to micro miniaturized circuits in still small compact units that increase the reliability of operations and decreased the maintenance cost. This generation was also marked by massive computer disc storage, multiprogramming, time – sharing, refined on line red-time capabilities, Barbara L. (1986)

The fourth generation (1971) in early 70’s computer manufactures and users anticipated further simplification of system and programming analysis with increased reliability, flexibility and confidentiality of computer system, this device computer increasingly handle specialized functions by means of micro programming. Standwell Sheila (1976)

In summary it can be said that the advent of technology into business offices dated back to the seventeenth century and had since improved during the past years as a result of scientific and technological changes and innovations. This conclusion was arrived at by because of words of Foster (1990).

According to him, machine for adding has been in use since the seventeenth century the first to handle money column was the Burroughs produced in 1988



Technological advancement could be traced to the industrialization and development without the business circles. The computer manufactured as a result of this advancement in the technology used in organization to increase productivity and facilitate effective management. It is the most useful and fastest of all other equipment.

Davies (1978) adduced that we are in the midst of revolution. During the industrial revolution machines were developed to augment muscle power. Today, the computer is being used to augment the power of the mind. Already most of our major business concern simply could not function without their computer, they would laterally drawn in the sea of paper work.

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Due to its ability o augment the power of the mind, Standwell (1976) stated that the computer provide management of organization with accurate forecast of their financial position in the future, how much work would be required at certain time, what additional staff and material would be required for particular task, how many machines would lie vacant or be occupied at a particular time, etc. the computer provide the data or information for planning and controlling business.

There are various important functions performed by computer and as a result, they make certain contributions towards the effective discharge of secretarial duties. This contributions shows the “importance of computer”. These importance are as follows.

  1. SPEED: Computers, word processors are useful and indispensable because of the unique speed at which they perform most duties. In this way they process information needed by the management in policy making and decision making.

Walley (1968) said that an efficient secretary making use of computer produces work at twice or three times the speed of a clerk using manual machine like typewriter.

Standwell stated in his view about computer that it carries out work very quickly, accurately and automatically. Whitehead (1982) maintained that the computer is a very fast communication system taking only fractions of a second to bridge gaps at hundred of miles.

  1. ACCURACY: The computer have the ability of producing more reliable output. Once they are fed with the right data, the output must be accurate. The error free computation is another step further in the understanding of the computer.

Walley (1968) stated that in carrying out multi entries all would be less need to spend time correcting errors and customers goodwill will improve as settlement of invoice are more likely to be accurate.

  1. MEMORY STORAGE: Computer word processor have the ability to store information within in-built mechanism at an incredible speed.

Standwell (1976) pointed put that computer has files or storage units. When information is fed in the machine works upon in the manner directed by the program and the result is printed out either by high speed printing devices. This result will also be stored on magnetic tape, or in the machine itself and the files for the future.

Foster (1990) mentioned that the memory which is the active storage of the computer hold the operating program and data being used by the secretary. He said that the information is stored in magnetic tape or disc for the computer to use when necessary.


Literacy means the ability to read and word in recent years another kind of literacy has become important “computer literacy”

What is computer literacy? This is the ability to use computer to make your work easy and fast.

Computer literacy means knowing about computers, understanding their usefulness as tools and knowing how to use and control them. In line with the above Kurshan, November and stone (1986) see computer literacy as “being aware of both the computer’s benefits and its, draw backs and being able to utilize them”

Society has progress from the age if automation to that of micro-electronic at the apex of which is the computer. Computer is now use in all fields of human endeavor because of its speed, efficiency, accuracy, versatility, adoptability and flexibility. Anybody growing up in this century should be computer literate because every thing is virtually going to be computerized.

Also yesterday, computers were used only by scientist and mathematicians. Today they are used in large corporations, small businesses, factories, schools, libraries and millions of private homes, lawyers, doctors, secretaries, farmers and countless other all find the computer to be an invaluable tools. Computer illiterates may likely not find things easy any longer (Gallo and Nenno 1985), Evans (1980) and Kurshan, November and stone (1986)

Stressing the urgent need for everybody especially secretaries and other offices workers to be computer literate, Austin (1990) stated that secretaries have to be sent for training because armed with such training, they can perform quite beyond their activities and capabilities. It will also enable them to have the knowledge or electronic mails, spreadsheets, word processing, business graphics, database management and other desktops publishing software. Secretaries should be computer literate in order to improve their technical skills needed to fulfill their jobs requirement. In support of the above claimed, Holocin (1984)  opined that any secretary who wants to remain in his or her job must make effort to update his or her knowledge of word processing and data processing. Any secretary who ignore this warning may be thrown out of job because manual methods of word processing will soon be completely out-dated.

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A computer –literate work force is also necessary to maintain our national defense and to improve our national productivity. At the individual level computer literacy is needed to participate in a knowledge society.


Clippinger (1987) said that without question, computer has changed our lives, especially the way we do office work. The arrival of the electronic age is permanently changing many office jobs. Scientific advances in electronics and this has gone a way in increasing efficiency and effectiveness of office workers. More specially, technology in the forms of electronic typewriter, word processors, micro computers etc. has been introduced to facilitate written communication in business letters, memos, tables and reports can now be prepared faster and better.

Also Kann (1987) emphasized that word processing typically promotes efficiency on terms of more typewriters pages and also address the need of managers and professionals. It is primarily concerned with improving their effectiveness in conducting business.

Mandel (1985) postulated that using computer speeds operations, reduces mistakes in circulation and give companies efficient cost-effective analysis that would be nearly impossible with manual operations. The major advantages of word processing over traditional text preparation are increased productivity and reduction in preparation time.

Writing on this topic, Frienlink (1965) printed out that the use of computer for decision is increasing. According to him, managers and executives now make use of computer for budget schedule and general planning. Computer is a powerful tool for increasing productivity. The secretary who has learnt how to analyze and interpret data will be a valuable asset to the manager or executive who uses the sophisticated process available for making projections and decisions.

Buffington (1976) in his own view emphasized that the knowledge of computers in secretary has helped them in processing documents that need to be revised which resulted in improve documents and decrease in the time need to produce the finished documents. To buttress his point, he said that secretaries like the prepare documents regardless of the length. The approve equipment that enables them to prepare error free pages and they can take pride in producing professional looking documents.

Also stressing the effect of computer literacy to modern secretaries. Harper et al (1980) in their own view pointed out that secretaries like the computer equipment because it can repetitive typing by merging facts with a letter or document that has been stored. This is called mail merge. With the aid of  computer, the secretary can input and store the variables to the merged and the computer equipment can produce hundred of letters while the secretary is doing something else, they further frame for another use and then merge with other stored information.

Walter (1990) believed that her present job demonstrates the changes taking place in our profession as secretaries today perform myriad duties. In addition to serving the company president, she supervises the development of customer’s pamphlets and customer services, policy manuals, coordinates financial assistance to needy customers and handles charitable giving programs. She stated further that since the advent of the computer, executives have started discovering all the things these machines can do and delegating the details to secretaries.

Thus secretaries have become more of an information sources in the office due to there computer literate. For example, instead of just taking minutes of meetings, secretaries use information aid input. As a result they can be involved in everything from purchasing decision to company task forces and committees.



There are many problems associated with the use of computer. In discussing these problems, references is made to the view of some authors who have dealt with the topic before. Terry (1970) stated that the problems associated with the use of computer like heavily with the cost of maintenance. The cost of repairing and maintaining computers are so high that most of them are dumped in the office making secretaries who are acquainted with them handicapped to tackle job.

Onasanya (1990) said that recurrent expenses in the form of cost stationery, ink, training of staff and special pay for each staff are problems encountered in procuring computer. He further said that computer reduces inefficiency on the part of the secretary, problems such as delay in production due to break-down of the machine arises.

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Warison et al (1978) pointed out that the problems secretaries encounter on the manipulation of computer like in the fact that the electricity supply is not always constant and can disappoint the secretary by getting her stuck in the midst of carrying out a task.

It is important to note that since the cost of procuring computer is high and secretaries cannot work effectively because of break-down of most of these equipment, business organization should train personnel who are specialist in the repair of these machines. The organization should endeavor to get proper generators to offset the effect of power failure on the performance of secretarial duties. The secretarial profession has witnessed a marked change in terms of technological advancement. Just as in other professional course like banking, accountancy, and engineering etc. computer have taken the toll of events with the growing rate of scientific and technological innovations.

However, emphasis on the problems of secretaries should be made. One of these problems lies on the lack of necessary office equipment to carry out the secretarial work. This problems encountered by secretaries lead to low productivity and the secretary’s efficiency and competence is not enhanced in anyway.

Lack of motivation is also another problems encountered by some secretaries. When a secretary is not motivated in any way in his/her working place, it will be difficult for the secretary to effectively carry out his/her duties. This problems equally affects the organization because of the secretary’s low productivity

In addition, lack of job satisfactions is another problem faced by some secretaries in their offices. These may be caused by lack of necessary office equipment, working environment, relationship with other staff etc.



Computer is a mere machine that makes work easier and faster. Various authors agreed that it can receive, store and use information. It is an all purpose electronic tool. From the foregoing, it has been observed that since the introduction of computer into our businesses, the secretaries, managers and other individuals has found one reason or the other that will make them to grasp the new technology. This implies that every profession can use computer to enhance their job. It has been revealed that it is no longer enough to be computer literate means to know about computer especially how to use and control them. This type of literacy is inevitable because we are in the computer age. Secretaries are not left out in this computerization process since it is capable of making them perform quite beyond their abilities and capabilities.

Office computerization have great increased efficiency and effectiveness of practicing secretaries. Computer speeds operation, reduces mistakes in circulation and gives companies efficient cost-effect analysis that would be nearly impossible with manual machines.

It is also worthy to note that secretary’s success, his boss value and the life of the business lies on the secretary’s hand, therefore computer should be made known to her since the company’s documents needs to be safeguarded.

It is also noted that the problems associated with the use of computer lie heavily with the cost of maintaining and repairing it. The cost of repairing and maintaining it are so high that some are dumped in the office making the job of secretary difficult.

Finally, understanding the effective operation of the new word processor will enhance the secretary knowledge on demonstrating a good level of competence in his or her work.

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